The Software-Defined Home of the Future

KB Homes’ SVP Dan Bridleman discusses the smart home of tomorrow and the work they are doing to make the home the center of a smart ecosystem. Instead of traditional bespoke construction techniques, modularity and off-site construction of building blocks or subsystems is the trend for new construction and is seen in the KB Home ProjeKt.

Software is at the heart of the changes to an industry that, as Bridleman says, builds homes in largely the same manner as 80-years ago.  He calls what they are doing an operating system for the home that integrates the disparate technologies into something that adapts to the residents.  Their KB Home ProjeKt is a sandbox of sorts to test different ideas and technology to create a new type of home; one that might be called software-defined.

The home’s adaptation is not only about automatically adjusting lights to match the circadian rhythms of the occupants or unlocking a door based on facial recognition, but it is adapting over time to the needs of the occupants.  For instance, Bridleman describes walls that move to create new spaces or beds that fold into the wall creating an office space, all based on voice commands.

The design itself is important to adapt to long-term changes, such as letting occupants downsize as they age. The design could also include the ability to easily close off parts of the house, allowing separate entrances to enable multi-generational living or revenue-generation through short-term rental. As this future unfolds, solar coupled with batteries will make off-grid power reality and, perhaps, with solar evaporation technology, even make the home self-sufficient for drinking and cooking water (as seen in this video).

An underlying given is that the community includes a last-mile fiber-optic network that is a must-have and is table stakes for both the connected home, as well as providing a robust backbone for the 5G networks. This is part of a bigger concept of what Bridleman calls a livable community with shared resources.

Bridleman alludes to the tight linkage between the built environment and mobility when he points out that they are even designing the utilitarian garage so that it can adapt for new uses when shared, driverless vehicles become reality. Just like the promise of shared driverless promises to reduce the cost of mobility for the masses, Bridleman points out that,

“We aren’t building things for the elite or the rich. We have to make it available to everybody at an affordable price that gives the same advantages as everyone else.”

Interview highlights:

01:08 – A home that gives back to you through things such as improving air quality.

01:45 – Broadband is foundational for communities and new housing. Fiber is part of the basic infrastructure.

03:13 – This is being built to be affordable.

04:02 – Creating a livable community with shared resources

05:30 – Adapting the building to the needs of different age/life phases.

06:39 – Over 250 open APIs to Google

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